Going Into Classrooms With Our Story
By Ann Skelton

Why Unions

Workers have a right to a just wage. Labor is not simply a commodity traded on the open market nor is it a just wage determined simply by the level the market will sustain. Every working person has the right to secure a better life.

It is one of the consequences of the way power is distributed in a free-market economy that employers frequently possess greater bargaining power than employees in the negotiation of wage agreements. Such unequal power often presses workers into a choice between inadequate wage and no wage at all. The provision of a wage sufficient to support a family in dignity is necessary to prevent the exploitation of workers. The dignity of workers also requires adequate health care, insurance for old age or disability; sage and healthy work environments, rest and periodic holidays. These provisions are essential if workers are to be treated as persons rather than simply as "factor of production."
Justice, not charity, demands such minimum guarantees.

Unions provide an institutional means to these guarantees. Their purpose is to secure rights to fair wage and working conditions. Trade Unions express our social nature as human beings and manifest the human need for solidarity.

Workers should not be intimidated or denied the right to form unions to achieve dignity in the workplace and to secure their rights to fair wages and working conditions. Collective bargaining between labor and management and the accountability of management to shareholders give institutional recognition to the contributions of all and provide at least minimal means for the sharing of power within firms. Without collective bargaining even minimal rights are in jeopardy.

"We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men were created equal; that they are enowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers form the consent of the governed…"
Declaration of independence, 1776

As a union, we make progress together, by pooling our strengths. The UAW"S strength is derived from our membership, our leadership and our programs. We have many resources, but Education is our number one tool. The UAW has pioneered in the concept of family education. Our Constitution mandates local Unions to establish education committ4ees. Our International Education Department is funded by a percentage of dues money. We have programs for staff, local union leadership, rank and file membership and new hires to maintain an informed membership.

As a union we are in politics through our Community Action Program (UAW- CAP), not as a matter of choice, but out of necessity.

Corporate interests have powerful political lobbyists, which buy and manipulate legislation to protect their interests.

To protect and advance the interest of UAW members and their families, the UAW has our political arm UAW-CAP. The UAW is not only deeply committed to securing the maximum benefits for our members at the bargaining table, but we are also determined to win the enactment of legislation that will improve the quality of life in the communities where our families live.

We are determined to elect legislators with a strong moral sense of justice who seek to enact laws that benefit the working people of our country. There is no way to separate politics from the size of the paycheck, from contract gains or the chances for peace among nations.

There is no way to separate politics from every phase of your life. The whole country, not just unions, but also the democratic process itself, testifies to that unavoidable truth. Working people have moved up out of the sub-human miseries of the early industrial age to higher levels of material well being as part of the political movement of society towards a democracy in which political power, once controlled by the rich and privileged, is shared more and more by citizens of all economic levels.

I want you to know and understand why we take part in election campaigns, in national political conventions; in registration and get-out-the-vote drives; why we lobby in Washington, D.C. and our state capitols. We work for the needs of our communities for full employment, quality education, national health care, decent housing, a clean environment and more… A single interest for a privileged few? Definitely NOT!!!

Through the mandate of our membership, politics is our "business" as well as collective bargaining. The stakes are high- the future of our children and our country are on the line.


History Page Intro

Timeline of the UAW

Our Place In History

Walter Reuther Speech

Why Unions

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Ron Hendrix